Sometimes we think so often of the metaphysical or religious, we forget what’s right in front of us in the real world. Religious obedience is just as important as our existence in the material world; with that said, everything has a time and place.
I remember one time, one of my friends had called and told me that she was feeling sad and didn’t want to go to work. The problem was that she really needed money to pay her rent. She elaborated on the fact that, supposedly, she was a bad Jew because she didn’t dress as modestly as she “should”, and sometimes wasn’t strict about following Kosher. She basically felt that, whether she went to work or not, it wouldn’t make a difference to God. In fact, she felt God would probably be happier if she stayed home and just prayed. In her words, “As long as I’m performing a religious act, God will be happy with me. So, maybe I should just stay home and pray.”
At that point, a story came to mind on how, when the Israelites needed to cross the Red Sea, Moses paused and started to pray to Hashem. Hashem then responded, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.” In other words, Hashem was saying, “Now isn’t the time to pray. Now it’s time to act.” In that same manner, I told my friend that her duty as a Jew, at this very moment, was to go to work.
As regarding my friend’s concerns, what does it mean then to be a good Jew? Yes, it means choosing to follow the tradition. But, I also believe that part of being a good Jew is fulfilling simple, everyday duties such as being a friend, a mother, a daughter, going to work when you’re supposed to, or even just doing your laundry and cleaning your house. Every moment has its own duty and those responsibilities are all just as important as praying to God, because, after all, didn’t God put us in this material world for a reason? As God was trying to tell Moses in different words, “There is a time and place for everything.”